The Kojagari Pornima is a festival celebrated on the full moon day of the Hindu Lunar month of Ashwin (September-October). It marks the end of the rainy season & the brightness of the full moon brings special joy.
At night, goddess Laxmi is worshipped and night vigil is observed. According to a folk-tale, once a king fell on evil days, and was in great financial straits, but then his queen observed this fast and night vigil, and worshipped the goddess of wealth, Laxmi. Consequently, they were blessed by the goddess and they regained their prosperity.
Some people believe that on this night Laxmi moves about from place to place asking, "Who is awake?" ("Kojagarti?") and shows her pleasure on those she finds awake. Hence, the night is spent in festivity and various games of amusement, in honour of the goddess. So people sit in the moonlight singing songs, or keep themselves entertained in some other way. They observe fast from solid food and take only fluids like coconut water or milk. Milk is boiled until it thickens, and milk masala (a combination of dry fruits) is added to it and drunk. There is also the tradition to have cool Milk & Rice flakes on this night. It is a harvest festival and is celebrated throughout the country, particularly by us Maharashtrians i.e. by people residing in Maharashtra.
I particularly remember this day (or should I say night); Mom would thicken the milk & add all sorts of dry fruits to it. After dinner, we would then sit in our balcony & allow the milk to soak up all the cooling light of the moon. The milk is kept in the moonlight as it is believed that the moonlight has some special cooling medicinal properties on this night. In olden days queens & other ladies made their kajal on this day, and it was stored in a silver box & allowed to bask in the moonlight all night long. This tradition of making kajal is done even now, the reason again is that the cooling properties of the moonlight will benefit the kajal that is applied to cool the eyes. As kids we sat, talked, shared jokes and had a good time. The milk was consumed & then it would be time for bed, as these would be school days. We were never allowed to stay up all night.
Coming to think of today again, I have made the masala-milk, thickened it; & plan to take it to a place where it can soak up some moonlight (just pray that it is a cloud-less night). I want to tell my son why this is done & that what fun it is!! This will also be my last festival in Singapore this year. I am of course sad to leave my dear friends behind specially Malins whom I met coincidentally after our student days & it was so nice that our kids got to know each other & have grown fond of one another. Aadi will also miss Aaba & baby as he calls Malina's beautiful kids.